Trainer John Shirreffs' Paradise Woods, fresh off a dominating 10 ½ length win, looms a complete standout in Saturday's Grade II, $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes at Santa Anita. For fillies and mares three and up, the Santa Maria has attracted a field of five at a mile and one sixteenth.
Second, beaten 10 ½ lengths by Paradise Woods in the Grade II Santa Margarita Stakes on April 27, German-bred La Force will hope to make some impact from off the pace for trainer Paddy Gallagher, while the Richard Baltas-trained Tapped, who will be making her second start of the year, will hope to improve upon a second place finish in a one mile turf allowance here on April 14.
Owner: Pam & Martin Wygod and Steven Sarkowsky
Trainer: John Shirreffs
Although mired in a seven game losing streak that spanned 19 months, 5-year-old Paradise Woods served notice that she's ready for a return to the national prominence she enjoyed at age three, as she was nothing short of sensational in taking the Grade II, 1 1/8 miles Santa Margarita Stakes by 10 ½ lengths while in-hand here on April 27. An 11 ¾ length winner of the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks and subsequent post time favorite in the 2017 Kentucky Oaks, this Herman Sarkowsky-bred daughter of Union Rags was scheduled for the breeding shed this year, but ownership made the decision to campaign her instead, beginning with a disappointing fifth place finish in the Grade II, seven furlong Santa Monica Stakes three starts back on Feb. 16. Subsequently an improved third in the Grade I Beholder Mile March 30, she was well within herself throughout in the Santa Margarita, earning a lofty 100 Beyer Speed figure in the process. In what will be her fourth start for Shirreffs, Paradise Woods, who is out of the Forest Wildcat mare Wild Forest, will be bidding for her fourth graded victory. With an overall mark of 14-4-2-3, she'll also be seeking millionaire status as her earnings now stand at $945,890.
THE GRADE II SANTA MARIA WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 8 of 9 Approximate post time 4:30 p.m. PT
- Just a Smidge—Martin Garcia—121
- Paradise Woods—Mike Smith—125
- Exuberance—Norberto Arroyo, Jr.—121
- Tapped—Flavien Prat—121
- La Force—Drayden Van Dyke—121
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